Univeral Amplifier

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How Did the Media Cover the Nike Kaepernick Campaign?

Good, Bad, Left, Right… What did the media really say?

I asked our media measurement team at Universal Information Services to analyze the actual broadcast news exposure related to the new Nike advertising campaign, Just Do It. In Nike’s latest reboot of this slogan they featured the controversial former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick. Some felt this was the greatest idea since the last Just Do It (Dream Crazy) campaign, others felt Kaepernick was an offensive choice for the campaign. Statistically, though, the broadcast media didn’t introduce a bias to the story as some might think.

Sentiment Analysis Nike Kaepernick

As a comprehensive news monitoring company, I wanted to use our assets to study how the TV and radio anchors actually conveyed this story. Would the media be objective in reporting this story, avoiding alienating one side or the other? Would some broadcast outlets share their feelings, editorializing the delivery of the news? Should we expect the left and right leaning networks to play to their audiences and embellish the story? All of these questions were on the table when our analysts looked at key message points covered in these stories.

The Real Story Behind Nike and Kaepernick

So as to get a more accurate view of how the news personnel covered the story, we removed stories posted to TV and radio station websites. Much of the news content posted to a station website is actually syndicated from outside content providers, and therefore not a reflection of news created by a station or within a market. As a side note, monitoring both websites and actual broadcasts we are able to comprehensively evaluate public relations’ efforts. Web only monitoring can convey a very skewed result or message.

What Did Our News Analysis Show?


METHODOLOGY: A nationwide search of all available TV and radio newscasts yielded 4,413 separate broadcast news stories. The search included mentions from September 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The search included only the phrase “Nike AND Kaepernick”.

Nike Colin Kaepernick News Analysis

Overwhelmingly, the TV and radio stations across the United States objectively covered this story. Our analysis, reading the text of the stories and watching/listening to the actual broadcasts, showed reporters and anchors¬† reported on the controversy of the new campaign without adding their comments. One inference to be taken from this finding is that because of the polarizing nature of the story, a viewer may be for Nike or against Nike, the stations may have realized they didn’t want to offend either side of their audience. 49% of all news coverage did not come out for or against the ad campaign.

The next largest statistic from our analysis showed that 1/4 of the news stories contained some content that indicated either the reporter or anchor(s) felt Kaepernick was a bad choice for Nike.

Less than 20% of news reports included content from reporters or anchors showing support for Nike’s choice of Colin Kaepernick. Anecdotally, our analysts noted there seemed to be a geographic correlation to those newscasts that showed either a positive or negative stance on the topic.

Lastly, we were somewhat surprised to see so little influence on this topic from the politicians. Since I don’t perform the news measurement myself, I held a secret suspicion that politicians would use it as a rallying point for their would-be voters. My suspicion was unproven with only 8% of news stories containing tone comments from a politician.

Differences between network news and local newscasts were small, with two networks representing stereotypical positions. However, aside from editorial programming, most networks shared the same, objective view of the ad campaign, reporting it as a story rather than a position to take.

Politically, talk of a media bias continues to resonate on some networks and throughout social media. Statistical analysis, as shown above, reveals that mainstream media continues to focus on reporting the news rather than taking positions that might offend one side of their audience or another. What are your thoughts on the Nike ad campaign, Just Do It?


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